We have all seen them on Instagram, from the Kardashians to just regular foks: Americans enjoying a lasciviously lavish vacation in apartheid Cuba. The island slave plantation where 11-million Cubans have been held captive by the same totalitarian dictatorship for nearly 60 years is an irresistible allure to them.
They love to see how people struggling to survive in a closed society will so eagerly and happily dance and sing for them for just a couple of bucks. They adore how the Castro dictatorship has trapped Cuba in a 1950s time capsule. They are thrilled to watch old American cars rumble past dilapidated buildings down potholed streets, none of which have been maintained or repaired since 1958.
Of course, none of them actually stay in these parts of Cuba. They come for the day to take pictures of the human animals in their natural surroundings like they were visiting a zoo and thank God they are so much more superior to these quaint yet wild natives. When they are done, they board their air-conditioned tour buses and head back to their all-inclusive resorts and five-star hotels to enjoy meals and drinks that will cost more than what an average Cuban makes in an entire year.
To them, Cuba is an amazing travel destination that they just have to share on social media. They have to show their friends and the world just how cool they are by sharing their experience on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. It is their way of saying, “Hey, look at me, I’m in Cuba. I am so cool!”
If that doesn’t make you a jerk, I don’t know what does.
This Vox piece gets part of it right. What it misses is the real reason why these people are jerks. They are jerks because they think what makes Cuba cool is that they get to watch and enjoy from a safe distance the sights and sounds of people living in poverty and misery imposed upon them by a brutally repressive apartheid dictatorship. Once they are done, they then get to go back home to freedom.
Study Finds That Jerks Visit Cool Countries Because They’ll Probably Get ‘Likes’
Researchers asked 758 travelers about their motives. The results were depressing.
OK, let’s start this with a quick game. The game is called “Spot the Cool Place” and the instructions are pretty much in the title. Here we go:
- A Mitre 10 in Canberra
- Any place in the UK that’s not London
Did you answer “Cuba”? Then congratulations! You are correct and you intrinsically understand the nuances of this story. And that’s because some places are cool (as you know) while other places are not (you totally got that too!), and visiting cool places looks good on Instagram. Not only that, but predicting which places look the best on Instagram influences how much people like you will visit them. And there’s a study to prove it.
The survey comes courtesy of the University of Georgia, where researchers quizzed 758 people on their desire to visit Cuba. Of all the destinations, Cuba was chosen because of its recent availability to US tourists. Because the country has been locked up for so long it’s widely considered an authentic travel experience, but only in the short term. As the study highlights, “the narrative ‘see Cuba before it becomes ‘Mcdonaldized’ has been internalized by masses of American tourists.”
With this in mind, researchers quizzed respondents on whether they would like to visit sometime in the next year, the next five years, or the next 10. And then people were asked several questions about their travel motivations based on the timeframe they selected. And the answers were telling: People wanting to see Cuba in the coming year were far more likely to be motivated by the promise of “likes” on social media, whereas people content to wait another 5-10 years had more of an interest in the country itself.
Continue reading HERE.